Tanja & Rolf | From 9-5 jobs to a B&B in France
By Stephania Karathanasi
INTRODUCING TANJA & ROLF
We had steady jobs as an assessor at a consulting firm and location manager at an asylum center in The Netherlands. We were happy enough in our careers but had always had the desire to live more with the seasons and listen to how our body and mind reacts to those. A 9 to 5 job in Holland made this type of lifestyle impossible. While spending our holiday in a rustic house in Portugal we realised how much we appreciated simple living and how happy we could be with having just enough of everything. That sparked us to start thinking about our lives and all the opportunities we had.
5 THINGS ABOUT
FRANCE | THE SPIRAL OF CREATION | LIVe with THE SEASONS | STAY CLOSE TO YOURSELF | SIX MONTHS IN A VAN
LEAP OF FAITH
We realised that our material possessions were less important than we had always thought and that by owning less we could save so much energy. Our new plan began to emerge. France seemed the best option geographically; great climate, a long tourist season conducive to making e a living in tourism and not too far away from our children in the Netherlands.
The Spiral of Creation helped us to start our planning process; visualising our dreams, then talking about them with other people and slowly growing the idea to a point that we could set up a practical business plan. We read about people having done this before and visited a few of them, took French language classes and discovered the country during holidays.
BUILDING FROM SCRATCH
We found the property we were looking for – an old farmhouse with stables - quite quickly and built our place exactly the way we wanted to; almost entirely ourselves. Once we had the land we bought a second-hand caravan to live in during the renovation work of our future house. It took us six months to built the house and two years later we could start renting out the first two cottages. Summer 2012 was our first real “season”. Each winter, we would build one additional cottage and this season completed the fifth cottage. Now we can start truly living along with the seasons, just like we set out to do; working long days in the summertime and taking it slow in the winter.
OUR B&B - DOMAINE LES REPRILLES
Looking around B&B's in the region we learnt that we had to set ourselves apart by quality. We wanted to create a destination that we ourselves would like to visit during our holidays. We built a home for ourselves and five smaller private cottages on the property to rent. In the summer months we are fully booked which really gives us the extra confidence that our idea is working. It is a great feeling to see that something you built with our own hands becomes a success.
“The world doesn’t end if you fail - you gained one great experience and lost one illusion."
- The plan we created for ourselves was quite exhausting; building cottages in the winter, sometimes in -10 Celcius, after a busy summer season.
- Working with suppliers that don’t deliver on time or keep their promises can be very challenging.
- Doing business in a foreign country in a new language can be stressful.
We sold everything we owned (e.g our house, our boat) in the Netherlands and resigned from our jobs. We set up a business plan and defined our plan in terms of time and money. We expected a certain amount of costs and expenses and scoped that we wouldn’t have an income for two years. We also calculated how much we would need to earn to be able to live on a monthly basis. We asked a professional to judge our plan, a specialised advisor for people planning to set up a business in France. To find the right price for renting out the cottages we compared the rates of accommodations in the area and decided what our rates should be.
5 INSIDER TIPS
1. Don’t think too far ahead; it will make everything a lot easier and decisions more intuitive.
2. Nothing is forever; if you make a move, it doesn’t mean you can't change your plan again.
3. Keep focused on what you want and stay close to yourself. If you believe in your plan, stick to it and don’t make concessions right away.
4. Factor in if you have the energy and time to execute your plan.
5. Ask people who have done something similar for advice.